Updated: Aug 29, 2022
New 5 part mini-series on giving and receiving comfort- Paul explains how it works
Comfort: How to receive it/ how to give it. Some people think God is in the business of comforting the afflicted and others think that God afflicts the comfortable! In these days of the global pandemic and lockdown it is important we know to how to both give and receive comfort.
The flow of comfort from God and between his people
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
What does it mean to comfort someone?
1. To soothe in time of affliction or distress.
2. To ease physically; relieve: comforted the feverish patient with a cool cloth.
Here in our passage, the idea of comfort is “to strengthen much,” ''to encourage — to stand by another and encourage him as he endures testing''. Paul wanted his hearers to understand that the merciful Father is the author of all possible comfort and consolation. There is no enduring comfort apart from him.
What were Paul’s afflictions that he needed comfort from? Paul was certainly one of the most afflicted men ever. He suffered cold, nakedness, beating, imprisonment, criminal assault, shipwreck, betrayal, desolation, desertion, and more. His was a life of perpetual death: “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake” 2 Corinthians 4:11. However, this said, he found that God comforted him in all his afflictions.
Not in some afflictions but in “all” of them!
Every one of Paul’s epic miseries was attended by God’s comfort. His repeated imprisonments were venues of God’s comfort. Through each of the forty lashes administered on five separate occasions, with the final lashes meant to bring him to the point of death, he experienced the comfort of God. When he was stoned in Lystra he experienced the comfort of God. Adrift on the high seas (for the third time!) he knew the comfort of God again. When he was in danger from rivers — God’s comfort, danger from robbers — God’s comfort, danger from his own people — God’s comfort, danger in the city — God’s comfort, danger in the wilderness — God’s comfort, danger from false brothers — God’s comfort. “In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” 2 Corinthians 11:27, Paul always experienced God’s comfort.
Never once was he without the comfort of God. Paul significantly tells us that, God can get you through your present affliction and Paul's own life was proof!